Policy actions  3 of 3

Science and research

Offshore renewable developments have an important role in helping to tackle climate change by contributing to the Scottish Government’s ambitious emissions reduction and energy strategy.

To improve understanding and assess the environmental and socio-economic implications of offshore renewable developments, and in line with the Precautionary Principle, Marine Scotland have established the Scottish Marine Energy Research (ScotMER) programme.

ScotMER is an initiative that involves collaboration from industry, environmental NGOs, Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, and other interested stakeholders, to facilitate the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy in Scottish waters. This body of research will support sound scientific decision making and management through filling knowledge gaps and using new research to inform future decision making and policy.

There are two parts to the ScotMER programme: the evidence maps that provide a comprehensive framework of gaps in knowledge, and the research programme that is structured around this framework.

ScotMER evidence maps

Marine Scotland has worked with industry, environmental NGOs, Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, and other interested stakeholders, to map out the gaps in knowledge when assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of offshore renewable developments.

To do this, seven specialist groups were created, each focussing on particular impact receptors. These groups are:

Each group, made up of experts and stakeholders, have worked together to produce ‘evidence maps’ which provide a framework to guide ScotMER research projects.

“The initial processes of mapping out knowledge gaps has been completed and the resulting evidence maps are now available. These maps will be reviewed and updated based on new scientific evidence.”

A streamlined version of the evidence maps for all groups (except socio-economic) can be accessed here.

For more information about ScotMER and the process of producing evidence maps, please see the stakeholder brief

In March 2019, Marine Scotland held its second Scottish Marine Energy Research (ScotMER) symposium. The symposium showcased recent research and new methods being developed to understand the potential interactions between marine mammals and renewable energy developments.

ScotMER research programme

The ScotMER programme is taking forward high priority research projects identified by the evidence maps.

Marine Scotland is collaborating with industry, Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, other government departments, researchers, NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, across Scotland, the UK, and Europe, to conduct research that will further understanding of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of offshore renewables developments. This coordinated approach enables exploration of joint funding opportunities, cooperation across national boundaries, and the disseminated of new knowledge to inform future decision making.


Ongoing Projects


Development of good practice guidance document for assessing fisheries displacement

Fish and Fisheries

ScotMER Fish and Fisheries literature review and programme of works

Fish and fisheries

Further develop marine mammal Dynamic Energy Budgets models

Marine Mammals

Production of a Cumulative Effects Framework for key ecological receptors

Ornithology, Marine Mammals

Sectoral Marine Plan – Roadmap of actions and compensatory measures


Strategic review of the migratory routes and further development of stochastic Collision Risk Modelling tool


Feasibility study to extend SeabORD to full breeding season


Collection of Seabird Flight Height Data at an Operational Windfarm using Aircraft Mounted Lidar


Seabird behaviour at sea: Improving estimation of collision risk parameters


Study to examine the impact of climate change on seabird species and integration into PVA


Bird Sensitivity Mapping tool – further development and extension to UK waters


At-sea surveys of seabirds east of Scotland


Social Impact Assessment methods toolkit


Offshore wind perceptions study


Recent publications

The Status of Sabellaria spinulosa Reef off the Moray Firth and Aberdeenshire Coasts and Guidance for Conservation of the Species off the Scottish East Coast | Marine Scotland Data Publications (27 August 2020)

Scoping Study - Regional Population Viability Analysis for Key Bird Species CR/2016/16 | Marine Scotland Data Publications (27 July 2020)

Improving estimates of seabird body mass survival relationships | Marine Scotland Data Publications (27 July 2020)

Review Of Demographic Parameters And Sensitivity Analysis To Inform Inputs And Outputs Of Population Consequences Of Disturbance Assessments For Marine Mammals (29 July 2020)

Regional baselines for marine mammal knowledge across the North Sea and Atlantic areas of Scottish waters | Marine Scotland Data Publications (29 July 2020)

Developing marine mammal Dynamic Energy Budget models and their potential for integration into the iPCoD framework (3 August 2020)

Seabird Survey Designs for the East Coast of Scotland ( (26 August 2020)

Automated Identification of Fish and Other Aquatic Life in Underwater Video | Marine Scotland Data Publications (26 August 2020)

ScotMER Symposiums

In October 2018, Marine Scotland showcased recent research projects undertaken in collaboration with organisations across Scotland and Europe, in the First ScotMER symposium. We were delighted to welcome attendees across industry, academia, nature conservation organisations, and advisory bodies.

In March 2019, Marine Scotland held its 2nd ScotMER symposium, this time focussing on Scotland’s marine mammals. The symposium showcased recent research and new methods being developed to understand the potential interactions between marine mammals and renewable energy developments, and covered topics such as noise, strategic monitoring, collision risk, and modelling population level consequences of disturbance.

The third ScotMER symposium took place in March 2020, and focused on research and monitoring around offshore wind developments on the east coast of Scotland. A wide range of topics were presented and discussed, including monitoring work conducted by current offshore wind developers on the East Coast of Scotland and developing guidance that could affect the focus of this work.

The fourth ScotMER Symposium was held  on 1-3 December 2020. The event was the first of the series to be held exclusively online due to restrictions from Covid-19. The symposium focussed on the recent research on seabirds, marine mammals, fish, benthic and socioeconomics, in relation to offshore renewable developments. There was also an update on the Scottish Government’s commitment to a Blue Economy Action Plan and the Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind as well as interactive sessions to get views on the key evidence gaps for new floating wind technology.

Mr Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands has opened the first thee symposia events, highlighting current and future opportunities for marine renewables in Scotland and the importance research to facilitate the sustainable development of this industry. The latest event was opened by Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform who also placed the sustainable development of the offshore wind industry, and underpinning research, in the context of green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic"

Attendees at ScotMER symposia include industry, academia, nature conservation organisations, and advisory bodies and as COVID-19 has made us review the organisation of the symposia,  there will be the opportunity for the public with a keen interest in the development of the work ScotMER produces to attend.

For more information contact

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